Sausage “sandwich” is a simple, tasty meal

One of the best cookbooks I got when I was first learning to cook was a collection of recipes from the sides of boxes, cans, etc. It wasn’t fancy, but that’s sort of the point of those types of recipes. Sure, it’s product-related, but it also is usually a quick, easy way of putting together something edible.

Aside from the best vanilla cream pie recipe (from Argo and Kingsford’s corn starch packaging), one of my favorite recipes from the book is a sausage and vegetable mix wrapped in puff pastry. And I knew from when I started this blog that it would be one of the recipes for my sheet pan year.

Sausage puff pastry ingredients.

There was just one problem. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the cookbook.

I scoured all relevant sections, and nothing.

I started to think it was one of those invented memories, like “Shazaam.”

So, I did what any totally normal and sane person would do; I went through the g-d damn book page by pain-staking page to find it. And buried near the end of the sandwich section of all flippin’ places, I found the recipe I remembered from before.

While I might like to complain about the delay, it actually worked out pretty well because we had a nice hot Italian sausage from the farmer’s market from Lucky George Farm that worked perfectly with the recipe. And if I’d made it sooner, I wouldn’t have used this excellent meat.

It was every bit as good — OK, a little better, because did I mention the awesome sausage?! — as I remembered, even if I forgot one ingredient (oops!).

So yummy and it looks pretty to boot.

Here’s what I did, with said forgotten ingredient included as optional:

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm, if you wanted to know which box this originated from)
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1 ½ c. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 T. parsley, chopped
  • Flour, for rolling out pastry dough

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry at least 20 minutes, and up to overnight.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned (about 10 minutes), and then add the pepper and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender (another 5 minutes or so).

Remove from heat (pour out fat if there’s a lot but my meat was as lean as you’d want sausage), and add the tomato, if using, cheese, and parsley. Set aside.

Meanwhile, unfold and roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it reaches approximately 14 inches by 10 inches. Transfer the puff pastry to the lined sheet pan (I do this by rolling up the dough around my rolling pin and then unspooling).

Spread the sausage mixture along the 14 inch side, near the edge. Roll up along the long side, like you’re making a jelly roll (this is what the ingredients in the book say too!).

Pinch the dough together to seal and then curve into an oval or horseshoe shape. Cut the dough about halfway through every 1 ½ inches.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden, and enjoy!

Getting back to my roots with a timely rhubarb pie

I had family in town this weekend, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by making a killer rhubarb pie to impress my mom and stepdad and also something that’d fit for my year of sheet pans.

Luckily, I came across a rhubarb crostata (if you didn’t know, and I didn’t, it’s basically a free-form pie) recipe from Food and Wine a few weeks ago and ripped out the recipe to make it for their impending visit.

Rhubarb crostata (pie) ingredients.

It was the perfect time for a lot of reasons, but mostly because my stepdad loves rhubarb and, frankly, so do the rest of us.

While he’s been the most vocal, I learned from Mom this past weekend that she grew up eating the stalks (home-grown) like they were celery and dipping them into a bowl of sugar. And my stepdad loves another rhubarb pie recipe that my sweetie’s mom made him growing up. And, well, I’m not in the habit of making things I won’t enjoy myself as well.

But another reason it was great is because it was so easy.

Sure, like any pie, it took time, but it was small, bite-size bits of active time followed by plenty of down time to do things like go buy the wine or finally eat lunch after a day of cleaning. It was perfect for being impressive and fitting my schedule.

Oh, and it was amazing.

It probably won’t replace the rhubarb custard that was my sweetie’s childhood recipe, but it is quicker and comes with a creamy topping that makes it a reasonable substitute when we’re in a pinch.

So full of filling and flavor. Yummy.

Here’s what I did, sticking close to the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. and 2 T. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 t. salt, divided
  • 1 ½ sticks butter
  • ¼-½ c. ice water
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 2 lbs. fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed, cut into ½-inch pieces, divided
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • ¼ c. chopped candied ginger, chopped (I did a heaping cup because we like ginger too)
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1 egg, mixed with 1 T. water
  • 2 t. demerara sugar
  • 1 (8 oz.) container mascarpone
  • 2 T. heavy cream
  • 3 T. powdered sugar

Directions

Make the crust: Combine flour, 2 T. granulated sugar, and ¾ t. salt in a medium bowl. Cut butter into chunks and add into the flour mix using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, until pea-size chunks form. Slowly add the ice water and stir until the mixture starts to come together. Pat into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Make the filling: Stir together the remaining 1 c. granulated sugar, the remaining salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add in 2 c. of the rhubarb and the lemon juice, and cook over medium heat stirring frequently. Cook until the mixture has thickened and the rhubarb has broken down (it’ll look like a lumpy jam). The recipe says this takes about 12 minutes; I didn’t time it exactly but it felt like nothing was happening and then it was totally thick, so keep a good eye on it.

Meanwhile, place the remainder of the rhubarb into a large bowl. When the cooked rhubarb mixture is done, pour it over the raw rhubarb. Add the chopped ginger and orange zest, and stir until well combined.

Put together the pie: Unwrap the dough, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 13-14 inches. Transfer to a parchment-paper lined rimmed sheet pan, and cut into a 12-inch round, discarding scraps. Spoon the rhubarb mixture onto the dough, trying to leave about 2 ½ inches around the border; I did less and it was a really full but it worked. Pleat the edges as necessary and press down to secure.

Finish the pie: Brush the dough with the egg wash and then sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Refrigerate, uncovered, for about 1 hour until the dough is firm. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The recipe says to cool completely before serving but we liked it better the second day where we re-warmed it, so I’d say cool for an hour or 2 and then enjoy with whipped mascarpone!

Whip mascarpone for serving on top: While the pie cooks, or before serving, mix together the mascarpone cheese, the powdered sugar, and heavy cream. Use a hand blender or a whisk to blend for 1 to 2 minutes until fluffy. Serve on top of the warm pie and enjoy!

Make friends happy with mini meatloaves

My friend David loves meatloaf, so I knew as soon as I saw a sheet pan meatloaf recipe that I would be making it this year and sharing with him on one of our regular gaming days.

This past week seemed as good a time as any, as we were in the midst of an epic battle that required comfort food. Plus, I like meatloaf too.

Sheet pan meatloaf ingredients.

The recipe technically comes from a random blog I came across — Strawberry Blondie Kitchen — but I just made my regular meatloaf recipe and divided it as she suggests and also paired it with the recommended potatoes and green beans.

So, like a lot of sheet pan recipes, particularly the dinners, this recipe can be adapted to preferences. I’m sharing my meatloaf recipe but if you have a favorite, feel free to make it to your tastes. Don’t like potatoes or green beans? Feel free to alter with something else.

It’s been fun to have these recipes be so adaptable, and that was especially the case this week.

As the recipe calls for dividing the meatloaf into 8 patties, it was easy enough to make it to particular tastes. One friend hates onions, so I separated one pattie before adding the grated onions. One friend didn’t want spice — I used Sriracha in place of ketchup — so his pattie just had cheese.

With little effort, I could make everyone happy and share my yummy meatloaf recipe.

*drool* meatloaf *drool*

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced or grated
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. dried parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • Sriracha, to taste (or ketchup)
  • 8 slices of sharp cheddar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil for coating
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 12 to 16 oz. potatoes, cut into quarters or eighths depending on size
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, milk, bread crumbs, onion, Worcestershire sauce, spices and herbs, and egg. I just use my hands to mash it all together, which also helps determine if more bread crumbs might be necessary.

Divide the meat mixture into 8 even amounts and then shape into patties. Place on one half of the baking sheet, and squirt on a bit of Sriracha and then top with the cheese slices.

On the other end, place the potatoes and green beans, and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatloaves are fully cooked and enjoy!

Reflections on perfect pairings

This week’s recipe comes courtesy of my cousin’s husband’s family, whatever that relation is called. It melds the flavors of sweet and spicy, a combination I would have been skeptical of and probably never tried if my cousin hadn’t brought it to a recent family gathering.

But I loved the bourbon pecan recipe so much I asked her to pass it along.

Bourbon pecan ingredients; yes, I buy cheap whiskey.

As I made the recipe for the first time this week, it got me thinking about perfect pairings.

One of the more joyous things about growing up is seeing the people you love find their love. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s been wonderful to see the family grow to include these new people into our lives, and marvel as they put up with all of us, especially when we get together.

This is true throughout my immediate family, where my mom, dad, and oldest brother, found partners that complement them so well, and fit them to a T. But it’s also been true for much of my extended family, as well.

And, of course, it’s the case with my cousin Stephanie who shared this recipe and who married her sweetie 10 years ago this summer, just weeks before I met my own sweetie.

Since around that time, the Crippes clan has been trying to have regular get-togethers. At each, our family of foodies has shared our favorite recipes to try to impress one another.

Stephanie is overly kind in praising my contributions (her mom, Sue, however, deservedly gets credit), so she was especially pleased at how much I enjoyed this bourbon pecan recipe.

For my part, I’m just delighted that when she tried it, she thought of us and decided to share. Candied pecans coated in a cayenne spice mix might at first blush seem like they’re going to clash, but trust me, it’s a match made in heaven.

Soooooo good.

Here’s what we did:

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. bourbon (2 shots, or 1/4 cup+2 tbsp.)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. Angostura bitters
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. pecans (4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

Directions

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Simmer the bourbon to reduce it by half (3 T.). It happens relatively quickly so I kept a heat-proof measuring cup by the pot to keep checking it didn’t boil down too much.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, bitters, Worcestershire, and oil. Add the warm bourbon. Stir until sugar is nearly dissolved; the nuts will take care of the rest of dissolving if you’re not sure.

Separately, in a large pot, blanch the pecans for 1 minute in boiling water and drain. Add to bourbon mixture and toss, and then let it stand for 10 minutes.

Then, spread the candied nuts on a large rimmed sheet pan, pouring the remaining marinade over them. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.

When the nuts are crisp and lightly browned and the liquid has evaporated, turn nuts into a clean bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, salt, pepper, and cumin and mix well. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the nuts while tossing them.

Turn out onto a clean non stick or foil lined cookie sheet to cool. When cool and dry, store in an airtight container, and enjoy!